Like attracts like.
I first read about the Law of Attraction in the context of entrepreneurial thinkers, who apparently often have a tendency towards restless, results-driven, project-based careers, and who apparently also (according to Thomas J. Leonard) have a tendency to look towards others in comparison.
Indeed, who doesn’t, at some point in their lives?
I’m going to take a look at the history of LoA, explain how it works and give some observations. Of course, I’ll put my writers lens on it at the end. 🙂
According to the Wikipedia, Phineas Quimby is the man who brought New Thought theory to the field of health, specifically separating mind from body, thus (emphasis mine):
… if your mind has been deceived by some invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth I come in contact with your enemy, and restore you to your health and happiness. This I do partly mentally and partly by talking till I correct the wrong impressions and establish the Truth, and the Truth is the cure.
(‘ … the Truth is the cure.’ Postmodernists—or what are we up to now? post post postmodernists?—knock yourselves out with that one.)
Anyway, the term ‘law of attraction’ was taken up in the late 19th century and then revisited in the 20th century, and expanded out of the field of health into areas such as finances, relationships, ambitions. It seems also to have found a comfy home in the spiritual wellbeing world, on account of the fact that proof of its success is anecdotal at best, and that the terminology used around ‘Law of Attraction’ tends to be in the realm of ‘vibrations’ and ‘energy.’
Hashtags like #gratitude, #abundance and #blessed are in part birthed from this area of thinking. (Gabrielle Bernstein is an example of a spiritual self-help guide who works in the area of abundance using some of the LoA principles.)
How does it work?
Simply put, the neurological and physiological impact of negative thoughts is … negative.
By learning to focus our attention on the things we appreciate about our lives—the things we’d like more of—we send a message to the universe via our energy (mental, physical) that invites the same kind of energy back into our lives.
The Law of Attraction, as a basis for coaching ourselves or others towards wellness and thriving, seems at first glance to be a useful reframing practise.
Interesting to note is: belief is linked with disease when intentions are askew.
Also interesting to note is the underlying assumption that our ‘best self’ is intrinsic, and that we need only strip away our beliefs (the stories we tell ourselves!) through questioning (or interrupting the stories!) to find that true self.
There’s a risk that if you jump in and attribute everything that’s happened to us in our lives to the Law of Attraction, you’re giving yourself permission to point the finger of blame at the sick or abused or poverty-stricken: ‘It’s your own fault.’
In praise of writing as a practise towards Laws of Attraction
Writing is a process of selecting and arranging. The more we accustom ourselves to writing—to the process of dancing between deep thinking and lightly stepping on the surface as we select our thoughts to arrange on the page—the closer we come to an ability to be aware of the nature of our thoughts. A first step.
Secondly, the process of editing our own and others’ work teaches us to look objectively at the valence of our stories. Positive or negative? Which events, details, words have we chosen to focus on? What is the overall effect of these choices?
Writing is therefore a practise (and a skill we can hone infinitely) to build a thriving story for our lives.
With our thoughts, we make our world.